“Theo Epstein is trying to save the world again”

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Over at The Big Read, Joe Posnanski talks to Theo Epstein about The Cubs Way and how, once again, he is trying to save a franchise which is more famous for its futility than its glory.

There is a lot of good stuff in here, as it pretty much covers Epstein’s entire career. Just one of many interesting passages comes when he compared Boston and Chicago:

“Anyone who has spent time in both places will tell you that there’s more of an edge in Boston. Maybe it goes back to our puritanical roots, I don’t know. There’s just an innate cynicism. Even when things were going well, there was a sense of ‘when’s the other shoe going to drop?’ … In Chicago there seems to be a little more optimism. You see it at Wrigley Field. Even in a losing season, a player makes a nice catch and everyone is up, cheering and lifting their beers as if there’s no better place in the world at that moment. I just think there’s more optimism, more belief, less dread than in Boston.”

Block off a chunk of your morning and check it out.

Must-Click Link: “Skunk in the Outfield”

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Sam Miller of ESPN has an amazingly fantastic story today. It’s about a high school tournament baseball game in Rhode Island in 2006. It’s not your typical game story or oral history or look-to-the-past-to-see-the-future kind of thing. The only nod to such conventionality is mention of the fact that former Red Sox prospect Ryan Westmoreland played in the game. That’s mostly a footnote.

No, the article is about a trick play — “skunk in the outfield” — concocted by one of the coaches. About how it played out and what went into it before, during and after it happened. Along the way Miller talks about the nature of trick plays and offers a good three dozen amazing insights into the psychology of young baseball players and the strategy of baseball as it unfolds in real time.

Each of these observations could anchor its own story but here they form a grand mosaic. And that’s only mild hyperbole, if in fact it’s hyperbole at all. Indeed, most treatments of such a play would be some video clip with a “wow, look what happened here!” sort of couching. Miller gives a more than ten-year-old trick play an epic treatment that is every bit as enlightening as it is entertaining.

Set some time aside to read this today.

Rubby De La Rosa to undergo a second Tommy John Surgery

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This is unfortunate: Diamondbacks reliever Rubby De La Rosa will undergo Tommy John surgery. This will be the second Tommy John procedure of his career, the first coming back in 2011.

De La Rosa has had elbow  issues for his entire career. Last year his UCL was barking again and he underwent stem cell therapy to try to avoid a second surgery, but it obviously hasn’t worked out. He’s pitched in only nine games this year, allowing four earned runs in seven and two-thirds innings, striking out 12.

I first saw De La Rosa in spring training in 2011. I thought his stuff was pretty phenomenal and figured he’d be a good one. Great stuff is often a function of heavy strain on an elbow, however, and pitchers breaking is, unfortunately, the rule in baseball far more than the exception.

He’ll miss a year at least. We likely won’t see him until spring of 2019, most likely on a minor league deal.